Will voters overlook Duterte's 'character flaws'?

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Davao mayor's rape remark elicits debate on ethic, says analyst

MANILA - A sociologist observed that Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte's remark on the slain Australian rape victim has sparked a much-needed debate on someone's worthiness for the presidency.

"There’s this huge debate, both online and offline, about the proper approach of a presidential candidate in this season...It’s a debate on ethics that I really appreciate because we are starting to unpack the things that matter to people," said Dr. Nicole Curato of the University of Canberra Center for Deliberative Democracy.

Although she held a personal opinion that Duterte's background of being raised on the rough is "not an excuse for uncouth language" and definitely had elements of misogyny in it, she said this is his "what is."

"He’s able to justify this by saying ‘this is who I am and I put all my cards on the table. I love women. These are records in Davao when it comes to human rights violations. This is who I am.'"

While this appeals to some, she said, "to others, it is a character flaw you can’t dismiss."

"It’s one thing to say ‘these are my character flaws’ but it’s another thing to show yourself as someone who can be the symbol of this country and adequately represent the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of this country."

She also maintained that being wary of the mayor's remark is not to be forgiving of the other "scandals" in the country.

"Yes, we have to be equally scandalized with farmers starving; we have to be equally scandalized with the daily humanity of the MRT. These are scandals, but to condemn those does not necessarily have to allow us to stop condemning what Mayor Duterte did."

Duterte is once again in hot water after a viral video showed him speaking in a campaign sortie in Amoranto Sports Complex in Quezon City last April 12, jokingly saying that the "mayor should have been first in the gang rape."

"Nirape nila lahat ng mga babae so 'yung unang asolte, kasi nag-retreat sila, naiwan yung ginawa nilang cover, ang isa doon yung lay minister na Australiana. Tsk, problema na ito. Pag labas, eh 'di binalot. Tiningnan ko yung mukha, 't***a parang artista sa America na maganda," he said.

"P****a, sayang ito. Ang nagpasok sa isip ko, ni-rape nila, pinagpilahan nila doon. Nagalit ako kasi nirape, oo isa rin 'yun. Pero napakaganda, dapat ang mayor muna ang mauna. Sayang."

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Curato stressed that in this tightly contested elections, the voters would ultimately have to decide which flaws of a candidate to overlook and which ones not to.

"We can condemn all candidates based on their flaws and we have to weigh them based on these flaws, on what’s excusable and what’s not excusable."